Waterford IT will progress to the Trench Cup finals weekend after seeing off a late Trinity onslaught on Wednesday night. The visitors managed to cling on to a five-point lead, edging Trinity out 2-13 to 2-08 in Santry Avenue.
Waterford opened the game at a blistering pace, immediately catching Trinity on the back foot. From the throw in, Waterford’s James Beresford grabbed the ball and thundered into the Trinity half before slipping a hand pass to corner forward Darren Dineen. Dineen made a smart horizontal run across the 21 before swinging over.
The visitors set up camp in Trinity’s half for the next 10 minutes, taking every opportunity to to drive home their early superiority. Pushing high in the face of kickouts from Trinity keeper Liam Brady, Waterford began to reap the rewards of their dominance, clocking five unanswered points. The highlight of these came when wing forward Niall Dunne fired over from just inside the hosts’ 45.
Trinity sat deep, keeping men behind the ball, but Waterford were all-too happy to shoot – mostly accurately – from range. Trinity looked hurried when they did manage to wrest back possession.
James Guinness eventually took it upon himself to open Trinity’s account for the evening, bursting through from the 21 before firing over with intent. Waterford, though, were unperturbed, and methodically worked the ball back through the lines before midfielder James Beresford darted in from the wing to smash the ball into the roof of the Trinity net. Brady got a strong hand to it but couldn’t keep it out.
This was a wake-up call for Trinity, now trailing their visitors by 10 points, and they began to settle down and keep the ball for longer periods. Paul Lambert, clever in possession, spun a diagonal ball through the Waterford defence and found Aodhán McEvoy in space. McEvoy split the posts for Trinity’s second point of the night.
Trinity, tails now up, won the resulting kickout and Guinness drove straight at goal before falling under the weight of an unceremonious Waterford challenge. The referee had little hesitation in pointing to the spot and Guinness made no mistake, confidently driving the ball below the black spot, just past a diving Aaron Beresford’s outstretched hand and into the net.
However, it proved something of a false dawn at this point as far as comebacks were concerned. As the half came to a close, Waterford’s Rob Childs charged forward from centre back to knock the ball over. This left the scoreboard reading WIT 1-09 to 1-02.
The first half was monotonous in all, with both sides staying mostly patient and shooting when a pocket of space eventually opened up. The second half was anything but. With conditions deteriorating by the minute, the game suddenly became far more open.
Trinity, now with a mountain to climb, set to work with a well-taken Lambert point, before Sean Hawkshaw followed it up with arguably the point of the night: treading carefully along the sideline, he swung over superbly from 30 yards out.
If the game was now being played on Trinity’s terms, this dominance was not to last, on the scoreboard at least, as another Waterford goal – this one firmly against the run of play – interrupted the hosts’ resurgence.
However, there was a growing sense of belief in Trinity. The passes were increasingly slick and the 50-50 balls were starting to break the right way for the home side. WIT felt it too, as their once-insurmountable lead was reined in point by point.
Hawkshaw slotted over another point, before Bryan Magee bundled home a second Trinity goal after Dara O’Shea’s effort was parried into Magee’s path.
Their lead looking increasingly perilous, Waterford decided to swamp their half with bodies. Trinity were now playing with more vigour than before and between Guinness and Magee they registered a further three points. But Waterford stole possession and slotted over another to settle visiting nerves.
With both teams out on their feet, the rain battered down. Mistakes on both sides saw the ball moved from end to end without a shot, before the referee decided he’d seen enough for the evening and called a halt to proceedings.
Although Trinity fought tooth and nail in the second half, a bruising opening 15 minutes from Waterford proved telling. For Trinity, the Trench Cup dream was over; for the visitors, a semi-final in Mallow awaits on February 16th.